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SMA Trophy: Defending champions Tamil Nadu face familiar Karnataka in final

New Delhi, Nov 21 (IANS) For the second time in the history of the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy, Tamil Nadu will be up against Karnataka in the final of the 2021 edition at the Arun Jaitley Stadium here on Monday. While Tamil Nadu will be hoping to defend their title, they will also be looking to avenge the heartbreak of the one-run loss against Karnataka in a thrilling final of the 2019 edition of the tournament in Surat.

In 2019, both teams were at full strength with star-studded players on both sides. Come Monday, both teams will know that it will be the lesser-known players who could play pivotal roles in claiming the trophy. With the match starting at noon, toss won't be a factor in deciding the outcome of the match. It should be interesting to see who gets to win the toss and choose to put the opposite side outside their comfort zone. Tamil Nadu's stronger suit has been chasing while Karnataka have survived many scares while defending totals in knockouts.

Karnataka will be expecting their opening pair of Rohan Kadam and Manish Pandey to lay the platform for a big total, just like what the duo did in their 132-run opening stand in the semi-final against Vidarbha. Karun Nair, Abhinav Manohar, and the rest of the batting order will need to step up to cash on the good start given by Kadam and Pandey. The spin duo of KC Cariappa and Jagadeesha Suchith have been crucial but Karnataka would like their pace attack of Vidyadhar Patil, Vijaykumar Vyshak, and MB Darshan to show some more discipline, especially in the first six overs. Playing tight matches in pre-quarterfinal, quarter-final and semi-final means Karnataka are battle-hardened.

Tamil Nadu, on the other hand, seemed to have covered all their bases with different players standing up and taking responsibility in different matches. Their top three of N Jagadeesan, C Hari Nishaanth, and B Sai Sudharsan have to do the bulk of scoring so that captain Vijay Shankar and lower-order hitter M Shahrukh Khan can cut loose in the end for a big finish. Their spinners R Sai Kishore, R Sanjay Yadav, and Murugan Ashwin have been great in doing a containing job while picking wickets. If T Natarajan isn't fit, then the semi-final five-fer hero P Saravana Kumar can retain his place in the playing eleven for the final.

Come Monday, one can expect some intense cricket between two teams who have been all too familiar in the national capital, adding another chapter to the Southern Derby.


Tamil Nadu: Vijay Shankar (captain), Adithya Ganesh, Murugan Ashwin, Ganga Sridhar Raju, Hari Nishanth, N Jagadeesan (wicketkeeper), Jagatheesan Kousik, M Mohammed, T Natarajan, Ravisrinivasan Sai Kishore, Sai Sudharsan, Sandeep Warrier, Sanjay Yadav, P Saravana Kumar, Shahrukh Khan, Manimaran Siddharth, R Silambarasan, R Vivek and Jagannathan Kaushik

Karnataka: Manish Pandey (captain), KC Cariappa, Darshan MB, Praveen Dubey, Shreyas Gopal, Prateek Jain, Aniruddha Joshi, Rohan Kadam, Karun Nair, Abhinav Manohar, Vidyadhar Patil, Sharath BR (wicketkeeper), Krishnamurthy Siddharth, Jagadeesha Suchith, Nihal Ullal, Vijaykumar Vyshak, Ritesh Bhatkal, V Koushik, Aditya Somanna and Ravikumar Samarth